Opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz Member of National Assembly (MNA) Hanif Abbasi on Tuesday appeared before investigators and pleaded innocence in the case registered against him for misusing ephedrine.
The MNA is accused of obtaining a quota of 500kg of the controlled chemical from the now-devolved health ministry in 2010 and allegedly sold it to narcotics smugglers.
Speaking to media outside the Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) office, the MNA said he had informed the officials that his company used ephedrine for manufacturing of medicine. Abbasi said he provided all the necessary documents showing his company manufactured De-Asm containing the ephedrine.
He claimed that he had been politically victimised.
He said he was ever-ready to appear before the ANF officials when summoned.
However, he added that recent cases registered about alleged misuse of ephedrine had badly hit the domestic pharmaceutical industry.
The MNA will now appear before the Lahore High Court Rawalpindi bench on Wednesday, when his plea for pre-arrest bail will be taken up.
Drug manufacturers being harassed by ANF
In a related development, the drug companies have accused the ANF of harassing them.
Addressing a press conference at the National Press Club in Islamabad on Tuesday, Dr Riaz Ahmed, president of the KP and Punjab chapter of the Pakistan Pharmaceutical Manufacturer’s Association (PPMA) said instead of investigating the two companies named in the ephedrine case, they are punishing 28 others.
He said that in October 2010, ephedrine was allotted to 99 drug manufacturing companies, 28 of which were new.
Two politically-backed companies were illegally allotted 9,000 kg of ephedrine. Now these 28 drug manufacturing companies are getting harassed by the ANF.
He said ephedrine is being manufactured in Lahore and the set quotas for allotment to each company are 500 kg and no more than that.
He also demanded that the government release Friends Pharmaceutical Company Chief Executive Officer Nadeem Zafar, who was arrested by the ANF in the ephedrine scam on “baseless allegations”.
Dr Ahmed warned the government that if their demands were not fulfilled, all the drug manufacturing companies will go on strike and suspend supply of drugs to the market.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 12th, 2012.